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Have you been scammed by the ATO?

This week we want to bring a very serious issue to your attention. There are scammers out there calling people under the guise of being employees from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and demanding money from innocent tax payers in an intimidating & threatening manner.

This latest scam has been targeting business owners, demanding money to be paid over a short period of time. This is a hoax and is very sophisticated in that when they call, they are announcing themselves using names of actual ATO employees. The scammers are advising business owners that there will be legal ramifications for not complying with the ATO demands and that they will be contacting police. In one case, they have gone as far as to produce a fake arrest warrant!

So how do you know if you are being targeted or not?

The following tips will help you decide:

  • Any correspondence eg: emails will always be addressed to the recipient personally.
  • All ATO emails will come from ato.gov.au and not any other format or variation, on behalf of etc.
  • The ATO will never ask for personal information via email.
  • The ATO will never advise you of money owing via email, this is always done by way of letter or via your registered agent. Legal action is a serious step and as such, the ATO will always try many ways to assist with debt collection before any legal action is taken so this is another red flag.
  • Any emails about refunds is also a scam. Refunds are only calculated after you have completed your tax return. You will not be asked for any information from the ATO in order to receive a refund. It will automatically be sent by way of cheque or direct bank deposit.
  • If you have a myGov account, log in and check the emails from the ATO there as all communication from the ATO will be stored in your account.
  • Ask your registered agent if they have received any communications from the ATO as they will be the first people they contact on your behalf.
  • A call from the ATO out of the blue is definitely a red flag!

If you have any concerns about the person you are speaking with, ask for their name, hang up & call them back via the ATO directly on 13 28 69

The ATO are now using SMS a lot to communicate things such as an appointment reminders or notification of emails, but as mentioned above, if you have any concerns, contact your registered agent or the ATO immediately.

This scam has been investigated by the ATO over the past 5 months.

Please inform the ATO immediately if you suspect you have been called /approached by one of these scammers. You can do this via email or telephone:

ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au

Phone: 1800 008 540

Here are a few useful links that will also assist you:

How to verify and avoid a scam

Current ATO & Scam email activities

Scam Watch